The New Zealand Merino Company is encouraging a movement toward regenerative agricultural practices for wool farmers
Spotted: Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices whose goals include carbon capture, increasing biodiversity, soil enrichment, improved animal welfare, and even social improvements. It has been described as, “about creating a better, kinder, more positive future for the planet.” Now, the New Zealand Merino Company (NZM) has developed a platform aimed at helping Merino wool growers to adopt regenerative agricultural practices.
NZM had previously established the ZQ, a platform for New Zealand merino growers committed to ethical wool production. Growers awarded the ZQ label meet fibre quality, animal welfare, care for the environment and social responsibility standards. The new ZQRX (ZQ Regenerative Index) platform focuses on helping farmers apply regenerative principles to wool production. These include no-till pasture cropping, composting, holistically-managed grazing, animal integration, silvopasture and more.
The ZQRX index is supported by global Merino wool apparel and footwear brands, such as Allbirds, Smartwool and icebreaker, who are collectively committed to buying wool from farmers supported by the platform. Together, those three brands buy around 2 million kilograms of wool each year and are now committed to sourcing their Merino through the ZQRX platform.
According to NZM, on-farm emissions represent approximately 60 per cent of the emissions associated with wool products. However, regenerative farming represents an opportunity to make big reductions in this figure. John Brakenridge, NZM CEO, says: “ZQRX is an important and necessary evolution of our ethical wool program, ZQ. Through the adoption of regenerative practices that both store more carbon and emit less, we could reduce our on-farm emissions down to zero.”
Farmers are on the frontline of the drive to reduce carbon emissions. As such, we have seen a number of recent innovations that seek to incorporate more sustainable practices into farming. These range from unusual urban farms to a floating poultry farm.
Written By: Lisa Magloff